Knit wit: Designer Lou Dalton collaborates with John Smedley

The menswear-maker has teamed up with the innovative British brand to create a clever, contemporary capsule collection, writes Josh Sims

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John Smedley might be known for its classics, but it's always up for a design challenge: how, for example, do you blend the different tensions and washing behaviours of mohair with merino, or effectively recreate a paint-spread effect (much like that used by farmers to identify their sheep) on merino? Answer: you work with Faering in Leicester to digitally print your design, a rarity itself in British clothing manufacture.

Such have been the hurdles overcome by British designer Lou Dalton while working on a new Woolmark-backed men's capsule collection.

"I wanted to work with Smedley because I do a lot of knitwear manufacturing in the Far East and it always seems silly working over such a distance when you'd have much more control over the quality and production of a garment if it were made in the UK," says Dalton of her motivation.

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"It's true, though, that a lot of old factories here are hostile to new ideas – 'It can't be done' – but there was a sense that there was nothing Smedley wouldn't try, so I'm hitting the ground running for the next season."

Besides, Dalton has become a convert to merino. "It's a beautiful yarn that doesn't pill, holds its shape and always looks box-fresh. But it also performs really well – it's light, so it's cool in summer and warm in winter. And it's just so easy to wear. It is," she adds with certainty. "A favourite of mine."

Josh Sims writes for the Financial Times, The Independent, Wallpaper and Esquire

johnsmedley.com

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